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Electronic Transactions Act amended to strengthen Singapore’s competitiveness in the digital economy

The Electronic Transactions Amendment (ETA) Bill was passed in Parliament earlier this week. The bill was passed to facilitate electronic transactions for businesses and citizens in Singapore and help businesses benefit from more convenient and secure electronic transactions.

The Ministry of Communications & Information and the Infocomm Media Development Authority amended the ETA to adopt the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) with modifications into Singapore law, and for the Electronic Transactions Amendment to apply to transferable documents such as Bills of Lading.

Electronic Transactions Amendment to enhance Singapore’s competitiveness in the Digital Economy

The ETA facilitates the use of electronic transactions and e-commerce transactions by consumers and businesses. The ETA amendments will enable the creation and use of electronic Bills of Lading (eBLs) that are legally equivalent to paper-based Bills of Lading.

Bills of Lading are key legal documents in maritime trade. Compared to the use of paper-based Bills of Lading, the adoption of eBLs will enable the shipping industry to benefit from faster transactions, cost savings such as reduced administrative cost of cargo holding and document processing, and lowered fraud risks through the use of digital authentication systems.

Singapore has been encouraging the adoption of eBLs and has conducted technical trials through the TradeTrust digital utility.

Singapore is one of the first countries to adopt the UNCITRAL MLETR

Singapore is amongst the first major trading hubs to adopt with modifications the UNCITRAL MELTR.

Adopting this global framework will enable the creation and use of Electronic Transferable Records (ETRs) under the law and allow alignment with Singapore’s trading partners, benefitting both domestic and international industry players across the shipping, finance and legal sectors.

The ease of consistent regulations is expected to promote more domestic and cross-border electronic transactions. The ETA amendments also ensure that reliable methods will be used to ensure the authenticity and reliability of Electronic Transferable Records.

The shift from paper-based to digitally-enabled trade will speed up trade processes and promote business confidence, supporting the digital transformation of Singapore as a financial, trading and maritime hub.

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